To kick start our new article series, ‘A Lot on My Mind’, we are joined by CEO Paul Howarth, to explore the process of thinking like a leader, and how to recognise your self-destructive subconscious.
Paul: ‘As CEO of Pansensic, my ability to think clearly, strategically, and innovatively about the company is fundamental to its success and leadership. This may seem like an obvious statement, but what is probably less obvious is how we go about the process of thinking. How we regard it. How we place ourselves in a setting, within our minds, to be able to think really well.
The actual process of thinking is really interesting to me. There are a multitude of sciences, theories, and practices that explore how we think. The best explanation, that resonates with my own experience of thinking, is to consider the mind as three different stations.
1. The conscious mind.
2. The subconscious mind.
3. The superconscious mind.
They all have different attributes and we use each of them in different beneficial ways.’
For me, the important thing is to ensure that the subconscious mind does not sabotage the connection between the conscious and the superconscious.’
What exactly do you mean by that?
Paul: ‘The conscious mind is what we use to make decisions on a day to day basis. We are very much aware of these decisions. The conscious mind tends to be very rational, as it either rejects or accepts an action.
The subconscious mind, on the other hand, lies under the surface of the conscious mind. It assists us with day to day activities without us having to consciously think about that activity. For instance, driving is often assisted by our subconscious mind. I am sure that you have, at some point, driven off in your car, thought about something other than driving and have still ended up at your desired destination safely. This is because our subconscious mind is, metaphorically, driving the car- and it usually does a very good job of it.’
How does it do this?
Paul: ‘Our subconscious mind works in patterns and programmes. To drive a car your brain runs the necessary programme that you installed when you first started learning to drive. This applies to much more than driving. Your subconscious mind creates a vast array of differing programmes from the second you are born. In those very early days we create subconscious programs based on our experience of life. These can be both positive and negative. For instance, children that have had traumatic experiences in life can create very detrimental subconscious programmes.’
Can you provide an example?
Paul: ‘Say, as a child you were told off a lot. Well, you can set off a programme in your mind mirroring something to the effect of, ‘I will mess up everything I try to do, ‘I might fail’. From a very early stage we can create these subconscious programmes. If we keep running them they become so powerful that they dictate what our conscious mind does.’
It is these negative subconscious programmes that stop us from living
our fullest lives.
This negativity may not even stem from a traumatic experience, but rather an instilled and adopted belief passed down by our forefathers. I, for instance, adored my grandfather. But, as a farmer, he looked upon office work as not real work. This notion was repeated to me a lot as a small child. I adopted those believes. They became engrained in my subconscious so much so that I actually allowed it to control my conscious mind. Subconsciously, I felt that office work was not real work. Consciously and logically I knew that this statement was/is rubbish. But it wasn’t until I had understood that I had adopted someone else’s believes, as a child, that I actually did something about it and worked hard to reprogram that part of my brain.’
When I thought that office-work was not real work I never looked on those who did this work as beneath me, or invaluable, or anything to that effect. I only projected any negative thoughts onto myself. As a result, when I did such work, I never valued what I was doing. I didn’t really see the worth in it.’
Your subconscious can sabotage yourself, often without you even being aware of it. This is why it is very important to get a handle on negative emotions, and to understand exactly why you think the things you do.’
But how do you do this?
Paul: You have to either get help to observe your thinking and your behaviours, or actually stalk yourself… so to speak. Try to catch yourself thinking negative thoughts. Get to the bottom of them. Really question why you feel a sense of panic when ‘x’ happens, or ‘y’ is said? Why do you react in that way?
Once you have identified why you have a negative programme running, you need to make steps to change this program. There are many ways in which you can do this. But no way is easy. A lot of people change programmes using meditation. But being aware and disciplined in repeating a new program to override the old one can certainly help.’